VCC Sponsors farm-to-table fundraiser in the Alleghenys
By Francesca Costantino, Community Impact Advisor
VCC sponsored the Allegheny Mountain Institute’s (AMI) fundraiser for the Farm at Augusta Health in Fishersville, VA. The farm-to-table dinner included dishes from the farm and live music from an old-time band.
In 2017, AMI established an organic vegetable farm and educational programming on farming and nutrition on the Augusta Health grounds. The Farm provides nutrient dense produce for the health center food system, the Food Pharmacy program, and low-income community members with chronic disease and limited food access.
Farm to Institution (or institutional food purchasing) is a key strategy to boost local economies and food systems that leverages the purchasing power of large institutions with large food budgets like schools, universities, hospitals, corporate cafeterias, and senior care facilities in support of small and mid-sized regional farmers. AMI pioneered Farm to Institution programs in Virginia, establishing the first Farm to School program in 2014 with the Virginia School for the Deaf and the Blind; the partnership with Augusta Health is the first Farm to Hospital program in the state.
AMI also trains 8-9 Fellows each year for service in farming and nutrition education roles in the local community. Through its Fellows program, AMI serves a role in developing the brain trust and human resource capacity of the VA food system. AMI Fellows have gone on to launch and run Project GROWS, a community farm and education center in Augusta County, and the AMI Farm at Augusta Health.
AMI is advising VCC on how to enhance its food system lending under the healthy food revolving loan fund.